OTTAWA, Aug. 8, 2016 /CNW/ - In advance of United Nations International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples August 9, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today called on the Government of Canada to show leadership and honour its commitment to work with First Nations to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
"There is no better time for Canada to reaffirm its commitment to work with First Nations on implementing the UN Declaration than the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. "The UN Declaration is a direct path to reconciliation, to closing the socioeconomic gap and rebuilding the relationship between First Nations and Canada. We must work together to give life to the Declaration, and First Nations maintain that legislation must be an option in that work. This will ensure respect for the Declaration by this government and all future governments."
The theme for this year's International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is the right to education. Article 14 of the UN Declaration states that "Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning." First Nations' right to control their children's education is also an inherent and Treaty right and an aspect of the right of Indigenous peoples to self-determination.
"The AFN is committed to realizing our goal of First Nations control of First Nations education," said National Chief Bellegarde. "Honouring the UN Declaration will help make this goal a reality and build a stronger country for all of us. On August 9, we join with Indigenous peoples around the world in standing up for our rights and our peoples."
The UN Declaration sets out minimum standards for ensuring Indigenous peoples enjoy fundamental human rights, including the collective right to self-determination and rights in their traditional territories. The Government of Canada expressed unqualified support for the Declaration on May 10 of this year at the 15th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and committed to work with Indigenous peoples on its full implementation.
The United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 49/214 in 1994, which established August 9 as the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. The date marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
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